This is the lead -in to Rent’s “Take me or leave me. ” I just adore this song for a whole host of reasons. I love the dynamic between Idina Menzel and Tracie Thoms and the staging at the engagement party. It reminds me of “I Got Life” from Hair. It is also just full of passion, frustration, and the desire to not be left behind.
The desire for absolute acceptance of one’s self expressed in the lyrics, “take me for what I am or leave” are unassailably clear. We all want acceptance or at least not constantly being told to change. But this is really just an outcome of the lead in. The song really seems to me to be about about reacting to distraction.
“There will always be women in rubber flirting with me,” is a way of saying that there will always be people and things trying to distract me, but I will always be focused on you. And then it is followed with a long argument to say “quit trying to change me, I love you, so love me.” The problem, as we see throughout the scene, is that there is no give and take, no compromise, just each demanding acceptance. In the end, distraction wins out.
Distraction is a beast. It causes us to lose focus, to lose strength. In the Phantom Tollbooth, the Terrible Trivium is the faceless face of distraction, encouraging pointless never-ending activities for Milo, Tock, and the Humbug. It’s gruesome to anyone who values time and focus, and mind-numbing in the doing. “If you always do the useless and easy jobs, you never have to worry about the important ones.” Important tasks like communication, engagement, and being vulnerable to one another.
Allowing distraction can sabotage anything. It is insidious and can easily become habit. “Well, let me just check Facebook and Twitter one more time.” Or, “well, I’m not winning this argument on its merits, maybe I should throw something else into the mix to distract and redirect the argument.” Distraction also destroys mindfulness as it is hard to be in the moment if one is always chasing squirrels or shiny objects. It’s also hard to enjoy the happiness of moments that occur if you constantly allow distraction.
So I’ve been working on taking each moment, recognizing it for what it is and observing my surroundings, and allowing less distraction in. It’s pretty pleasant.